Around 400 train drivers employed by BHP’s Western Australian iron ore division are set to commence industrial action later this week after rejecting an offer they deemed unsatisfactory in terms of working schedules, according to a union representative. As of Friday, drivers will cease using a BHP app for roster changes, requiring individual contact for any changes in working hours. The drivers, who work for BHP’s most lucrative division, have opted for a more restrained form of action rather than disruptive stoppages. BHP’s iron ore operations encompass four processing hubs and five mines connected by over 1,000 km of rail and port facilities. This division contributed 60% of BHP’s earnings before taxes last year, amounting to $16.6 billion. BHP acknowledged the logistical challenges posed by the proposed action but assured that measures had been implemented to mitigate the impact. The company stated that it had presented a comprehensive offer, including increased base salaries and allowances, recognizing the rail team’s significant contribution to its Western Australian iron ore business. Concerns surrounding the potential strike have bolstered iron ore prices, which currently trade at their highest levels since February. The offer presented by BHP to the drivers last Wednesday failed to meet their expectations regarding rostering, arbitration, and camp standards, explained Busson, the Mining and Energy Union WA secretary. Notably, the majority of Rio Tinto’s trains are now driverless, making rosters less of a concern. In 2021, BHP urged its train drivers to transition to a two-week on, one-week off schedule in order to expedite material shipments during a period of high prices and labor shortages.
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